Meeting new people
Below you’ll find some ideas to help you find a partner and/or meet new gay and bisexual friends.
Online dating (good for making new friends too)
If you are 18 or over, there are many dating websites where you can make friends or meet a partner. I've made friends through OUTeverywhere. It's free to sign up and have limited use of features. The last time I used the site it cost around £5 per month for full membership. Was well worth it and cancellable at any time. OKCupid is a good worldwide free dating site for people of all sexualities. In the past I've met several nice people on there and had a few local dates. It has a friendly, social media feel. Many dating sites charge for membership, though this varies from a few pounds a month to a more significant cost. Look out for special offers or trial periods. Be aware that some dating sites like gaydar contain sexual content and may have more of a sexual focus i.e. they’re used by people who want to meet up for casual sex. That doesn't mean there aren't people on there looking for friendship or a relationship. I know people who's met long-term partners on gaydar. OUTeverywhere has a focus on getting to know people for friendship and doesn't allow sexual imagery or overt pick-up behaviour. As in any area of life you have to use your common sense in deciding if someone is genuine and looking for the same things that you are. See the Internet safety page.
College and university
Many colleges, and especially universities, have their own LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) student-run groups. I attended one when I was at university. LGBT uni groups or societies offer a range of activities within their regular meetings. A group may go for nights out to local gay venues, visit other LGBT groups at other universities, organise fund raising events, have discussions and debates about important issues, or even just watch LGBT relevant films together and go for a drink afterwards in the student bar. A good group will be open to suggestions from its members about future activities and events, so get involved and bring your own ideas.
Most importantly these groups offer an ideal way of meeting other gay people of your own age, perhaps for the first time in your life. Being away from your home village or town means you can safely enjoy time with an LGBT group without the worry of bumping into a family member. It's as much an opportunity to get to know yourself as well as other people, without the judgements and criticisms you may have experienced back home. Find out about your uni's LGBT group on the student website, student newspaper or magazine, notices in the student union building, or just ask around.
Some towns have gay youth groups that function in a similar way to LGBT societies at college or university. Rather than being student-run they have a set of adult youth workers who organise and manage events and facilitate the regular meetings. You can find a selection on the youth groups links page, or try calling a helpline and asking what groups and services are in your local area or nearest town.
Hobby, fitness or shared interest groups
If you're not keen on the gay scene, why not combine a hobby or interest with meeting new gay people? Perhaps you're a keen artist, want to learn a new skill, or would like to get active and improve your fitness. There may well be a gay group that's perfect for you. There are several bonuses to joining a group: all participants have something in common from the off, so it's a good head start in meeting people you might get along with. It's perfect if you're a bit shy because you'll always have at least one thing to chat about if you're stuck for words: the reason you're there in the first place! Activity groups don't revolve around alcohol and staring at each other in a noisy bar, so it's perfect if you feel a little alienated by that side of popular socilising. Try the Meetup website to find a group that interests you - there are hundreds. You might also find out about local groups and events in gay magazines that you'll find free in gay venues; look out for posters and flyers there too. You could also give a helpline a call and ask them about groups and other resources in your area.
Ask your friends
Maybe a friend knows someone they think you might get along with. Perhaps they have a gay relative you could talk to. Maybe they have useful suggestions to help you. It's worth asking. I'm not saying that you'll hit it off with any random gay person you're introduced to, but even a brief chat with someone your mate Kev's-Dad's-auntie knows can give you ideas. Be brave!
The Gay Scene
The gay scene is comprised of gay venues (pubs and clubs) and events like Gay Pride. It also includes activity, hobby or interest groups e.g. gay men's hiking club or a lesbian photography group. See the dedicated gay scene page for more information.
While it’s good to help things along and actively look for new friends, it’s also important not to get too obsessed with the search. It takes time and patience to meet people outside of your usual circle; friendships and relationships can’t be forced. They flourish naturally when you’re relaxed and simply being yourself.
Life tends to reward those who embrace it. So if you get out and about with existing friends, try new things and visit new places, and be friendly and open to new people, then you'll be more likely to attract new people into your life.
If you feel isolated at the moment, try to think positively about the future. You might choose to leave your home town to go to college or university, or perhaps to pursue a job or career. As you get older your freedom and the control you have over your life will increase and it'll become easier to meet new people. You don't have to stay in your home town forever if it's not likely to offer you the opportunities - social and otherwise - you'd like.
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